Are You Wired But Tired? Let's Check Your Adrenals

The Adrenal glands which produce hormones intended to help us to adapt to the varying challenges of human life. The Adrenaline it makes is our "fight or flight" hormone. Its purpose is to shunt blood away from the core of our bodies to our heart, lungs & limbs so we can run away if we need to. It's secreted at a moment's notice but the effects last for hours. Just ask someone who's ever had a panic attack. The Adrenal glands also make a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is a life sustaining adrenal hormone essential to the maintenance of homeostasis. Called “the stress hormone,” cortisol influences and regulates many of the changes that occur in the body in response to stress including:

  • Blood sugar (glucose) levels
  • Fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism to maintain blood glucose (gluconeogenesis)
  • Immune responses
  • Anti-inflammatory actions
  • Blood pressure
  • Heart and blood vessel tone and contraction
  • Central nervous system activation

In conventional medicine, Adrenal gland function is rarely considered in a work up for fatigue or insomnia or mood issues. If by chance it is, Cortisol levels are checked with either an "AM" or "PM" test with a range wide enough to be normal in anything other than pathological disease states like a tumor or Addison's disease. Cortisol levels normally fluctuate throughout the day and night in a circadian rhythm that peaks at about 8 AM and reaches it lowest around 4 AM. While it is vital to health for the adrenals to secret more cortisol in response to stress, it is also very important that bodily functions and cortisol levels return to normal following a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the stress response is activated so often that the body does not always have a chance to return to normal.* This can lead to health problems resulting from too much circulating cortisol and/or from too little cortisol if the adrenal glands become chronically fatigued (adrenal fatigue).